Beatrice Nthenya is 35 yrs .Having not had the opportunity to good education she enrolled for an artisan training in dress making and was living with her husband 18 yrs when four children later in 2006, misfortune struck. Blanche contacted TB.
“It took me time to realize I had TB. Having been brought up in the rural place and married in a rural setup, we still believe bad omen like TB is brought about by other people. I am embarrassed to say that we visited many witchdoctors and herbalist. At that time my husband was working in Mombasa as a casual worker and though he was not rich, we were fairly comfortable by the local standards.
“When everything else failed, I sat back and waited for my death. It was when I got malaria and knowing that malaria is a curable disease that my husband decided to take me to the hospital and during the diagnosis and my cough and weight loss that the news of having TB was revealed to me after two days of going to the hospital. I kept the faith and took my drugs for the 6 months that was prescribed even though I mixed it with other local herbs for psychological effect.”
It wasn’t easy for Nthenya though. The drugs would make her nauseas and she could vomit all the food she had taken yet she was advised to take the drugs after eating. Again she could get dizzy so she made sure she was lying on the bed when taking drugs. She eventually finished her anti TB treatment on October 2007.
“It is over,’ she said to herself and could not hide her joy and relief when the last test results clearing her of TB was given to her.
“I am cured!” Nthenya said with a smile on her face showing how she felt at that time. Having gained weight from 55Kg to 60 Kg she resumed her duties as a mother, wife and continued to farm in their one acre family farm.
“My husband believed that it was the windows that caused me to have TB so he removed all the windows so that I will never have TB again. Little did we know that the nightmare was far from over.”
In February 2011, Nthenya began to cough again!
“As usual, when you are in the rural area which is far to the hospitals and their unfriendly staff, it’s the last place you want to visit unless you must” Nthenya explained.
She went through the same route that she knows best, the traditional way, because she couldn’t believe she could have contracted TB again. This time though she ended again in hospital much worse than before. Thin, stigmatized and hopeless, she just wanted to die.
“My spirit died when I was told that treatment would involve me being injected with 56 injections on a daily basis.”
It was not surprising thus when she refused to go to the hospital to start the injections. However, after one week her last born daughter volunteered to support her through the ordeal and even offered to be accompanying her for the injections, convinced, Nthenya started her re-treatment course with her daughter to support her.
It takes 6 hrs to reach the hospital on foot. The terrain and the footpaths do not allow even the motorbikes known as boda boda to be used. She could walk supported for 20 meters and rest and after injection she could rest for one hour before trekking back home.
In her first week of treatment her husband and sister in law were there to give their support while their children left school to support her.
“I was going to the hospital for my daughter who through blackmail made me report for my injections at the hospital without failure. If she suspected that I would not go, then that day she would miss out on school and practically force me to go to hospital.” Nthenya recalled.
Nthenya finds it difficult to explain the emotional transformation she went through even though she could not believe that she is HIV negative in all the two instances, an issue the villagers had linked her with. When the director of Wote Youth Development Project visited her with a community health worker Jackline Katambo who had been trained by them, he eventually took up my case and supported her through counseling and nutritional support after the crops had failed. She is just grateful to her daughter and the family members who have been supporting her. Nthenya says one day when she is fully recovered she t wants to be brave enough and visit the witch doctor and the herbalists and tell them the truth about Tuberculosis.